Bella's baby just might be the most-photographed newborn Hereford calf in Illinois.
Bella's baby just might be the most-photographed newborn Hereford calf in Illinois.

I could barely contain my excitement when I got the text from my husband during lunch last Tuesday. Waylon’s first show heifer, Bella, had her calf.

Even better? A heifer!

Once Waylon’s show heifer from last year, Velma, calves in the next month or so, the Lee calving season will be complete.

Yup. Two cows. Two calves.

We don’t even pretend that we have what could really be considered a “calving season.” My brother manages a ranch in Oklahoma that will calve about 900 cows this year. My dad once managed a ranch that calved 1,000-plus cows yearly.

Many of you reading this likely are spending weeks on end in middle-of-the-night cow checks; sub-zero days of warming newborn calves with hair dryers; and back mudrooms inhabited by the occasional calf resident.

You have real “calving seasons.” We welcome a couple of new calves to our small Hereford herd.

But, oh, what an exciting time it is.

Tuesday just happens to be the day I help in Nolan’s first-grade classroom. As much as I wanted to burst through the door and show him the photo on my phone of the new addition, I knew he still had another 55 minutes of class time. And if he knew a new calf was waiting at home, focus would be a thing of the past.

So I waited until he was loading his backpack and zipping his coat at the end of the day to share the good news.

The grin that spread across his face? Priceless.

He showed his classroom teacher. He showed his PE teacher. He showed the office staff, the kindergarten teacher walking through the hallway and his principal (who happens to have a few head of cattle, herself. Nolan thinks that rocks).

We couldn’t get home quickly enough.

He and Waylon immediately headed to the barn to meet Bella’s baby. They stared. They grinned. They whispered to her.

And Nolan took approximately 76 photos on his iPad.

The family vote for this new addition’s name will happen tonight around the dinner table. Wish us luck. It could get heated.

Perhaps as the years pass, the complete giddiness of a new calf subsides a bit.

I’m pretty sure, though, whether you’re calving one or 1,000 – for just a moment, your heart warms a bit, and there’s a moment of awe with each new birth. At the miracle of life. At the witnessing of those first breaths; those first wobbly steps; and momma’s first lick on her new baby.

And to see it all unfolding before the eyes of an awe-struck little boy? Well, it’s one of the greatest rewards of raising a child in the livestock show life.